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Joel Thomas
Position: Running Backs Coach
Hometown: Port Angeles, Wash.
High School: Port Angeles

Former Idaho star running back Joel Thomas joined the UW coaching staff as its running backs coach in January of 2009. In January of 2012, he added the title of associate head coach - offense. He enters his fourth year on the Husky staff this fall.

The 2011 season was another highly successful one for Washington running backs as tailback Chris Polk became just the second player in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three straight seasons and one of only seven players in Pac-12 history to reach the 4,000-yard mark for a career.

Polk ran for 1,488 yards, the second-most in the long history of UW football. His 4,049 yards also ranked No. 2 in Husky lore, while he set new school records for career attempts (799), career yards per game (101.2), career 50-plus-yard carries (6) and career 100-yard games (21). He also became the first Husky ever to compile 100 or more rushing and receiving yards in the same game, as he did vs. Arizona. Polk earned first-team All-Pac-12, honorable mention All-America and joined the Philadelphia Eagles following the 2011 season.

Ball security, one of Thomas' most prominent teaching points, was also on display in 2011 as Husky running backs lost only one fumble the entire season.

The 2010 season, Thomas' second, was highlighted by the play of Polk, whose 1,415 yards were, at the time, second-most in Washington history and ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 Conference. Polk's relentless rushing style was showcased most clearly in Apple Cup win at Washington State, when he ran for 284 yards, just six shy of Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny's 59-year old single-game record. Additionally, UW running backs lost just two fumbles in 340 rushing attempts.

In his first season in charge of the UW running backs in 2009, Thomas coached Polk to the first 1,000-yard season by a freshman in Husky history. Polk's 1,113 yards ranked seventh in UW single-season history. Additionally, the Huskies gained an average of nearly 40 more rushing yards per game than they did in 2008.

Thomas, a native of Port Angeles, Wash., joined the Husky coaching staff after three seasons as running backs coach at Purdue. Last season, he mentored 1,000-yard rusher Kory Sheets.

Thomas, who was previously also a graduate assistant at Purdue, returned to the Boilermakers staff in 2006 after two years at Idaho as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach under Nick Holt, then the Vandals' head coach and now the UW defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

In 2002 and 2003, Thomas was running backs coach at Louisville. Under his tutelage, the Cardinals ranked 10th in the nation in rushing offense (228.2 yards per game) in 2003. Thomas also briefly worked at Idaho as running backs coach in the spring of 2002.

Thomas was a running back at Idaho from 1995 to 1998. He remains the Vandals' career leader with 765 rushing attempts, 3,929 rushing yards and 51 rushing touchdowns. As a senior, Thomas was named the Big West Player of the Year. He also earned the Humanitarian Award prior to the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl, in which Idaho Southern Miss, 42-35.

While at Idaho, he once rushed for 272 yards in a game vs. rival Boise State and twice earned All-Big West first-team honors. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.

He was inducted to the University of Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, along with fellow Vandal alum and Husky assistant coach Doug Nussmeier.

Thomas earned his bachelor's degree in public communications from Idaho in 1998. He is married to the former Ebbie Metzinger, who was a Big Ten-champion pole vaulter at Purdue. Joel and Ebbie are the parents of a son, Teyo.

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